Competition and Rotation on Tap for Offensive Line During Camp
Photo Credit: Greg Smith

Competition and Rotation on Tap for Offensive Line During Camp

August 03, 2018

In the months since Scott Frost was hired, the confidence that Nebraska’s offense would improve has been high. Husker fans have good reason to have faith that Frost and offensive coordinator Troy Walters will get this offense humming. Their track record indicates the question should not be if they can get the offense going but how quickly they can get it going. 

The coach that might be the key to that question is offensive line coach Greg Austin. A transformation certainly needs to happen before Nebraska can even begin to talk about “the pipeline” again. Last season, Nebraska ranked 13th in the Big Ten in rushing yards per game with 107.50, just edging out Illinois. Nebraska’s 3.51 yards per carry was good for 12th in the conference.

Frost has a lot of confidence in what Austin brings to the table. He's seen Austin turn a group around before at Central Florida and was pleased with where Nebraska's offense line was after spring.

“I was really pleased with the offensive line in spring. I thought they went to work and got a lot better," Frost said. "Coach Austin is as good as there is. I’ve seen him take a group that had underperformed and turned them into a dominant position group for us. I think we have some really good talent there. We have some really good attitudes and some good leadership with Jerald Foster and others. 

"Depth could be an issue, though. We need some to stay healthy at several positions. Offensive tackle is one. We need some young guys at tackle that can step up and prove to us that they are ready to play and I hope they will. I feel good about where we are coming out of spring and looking forward to those guys getting even better and playing more aggressive in the fall.” 

Building depth along the offensive line has been an issue in recent years for Nebraska. However, senior offensive lineman Tanner Farmer believes the competition on the offensive line has been good over the spring and summer. 

“It’s a good competition," Farmer said. "Since we had Michael Decker leave, it opened up some space for guys to work in there and get some playing time. I feel like we are going to be in the position to where we will have depth this year. That way if we have guys that suffer injuries like I have in the past, we will have someone that steps and fills that spot without drop off.”

When you have that level of competition on a team, lack of comradery can sometimes set in. Players can get so focused on winning a job that they alienate teammates in the process or don’t root for their teammates.

Farmer says that won’t be the case on this offensive line. 

“You are all on one team," Farmer said. "You go 100 percent on every rep you do. You take advantage of every rep and get better. Whenever you are taking a break, you aren’t just sitting there resting and not doing anything. You are watching your fellow teammates trying to see how you can help them. You expect them to go their hardest and you are there to critique their form and technique.” 

Rotating offensive lineman during the regular season has been has been a hot topic for Nebraska fans over the last three years. For those that believe there is no better way to groom young linemen than to get them real game action, you may like what's in store. 

Austin has hinted at the possibility of rotating lineman during the season. Count Farmer as someone who believes it is a good idea. 

“I feel like we’re going to have a lot more depth this year than we have in years past," Farmer said. "We have a lot of good guys coming up, Boe Wilson, John Raridon, Christian Gaylord just to name a few. These guys are the guys that have been fighting for a playing position for a few years. They’ve earned it. In my opinion they’ve earned the right to at least be up there and get some time.

"Coach Austin has mentioned about maybe rotating some guys in. Having these guys rotate in will not only make our team better as in if somebody goes down somebody can pick it up. But [also] making sure we can perform at 100 percent all of the time.”

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